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Sam Porter named national director for disaster relief

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — The North American Mission Board has named Sam Porter as the new national director for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

Porter will replace Mickey Caison, who will officially retire Aug. 31.

NAMB noted Porter has been a proponent of SBDR for years and one of the first disaster relief leaders to respond after the 9-11 attacks in New York City. He made numerous trips to the area for two years and served as a chaplain in the morgue at Ground Zero.

Porter also has led more than 100 volunteer mission projects and more than 40 international relief missions. He’s headed recovery efforts for a year in Haiti following 34 volunteer teams from Oklahoma in the wake of the devastating earthquake Jan. 12, 2010.

“We’ve been praying and looking for Mickey’s replacement for about 18 months,” said David Melber, NAMB vice president of Send Relief.

“Sam has been in the disaster relief world for a long time working around the nation and throughout Oklahoma,” Melber noted. “He’s proven to be a great leader. I’m excited to see how he’s going to continue unifying our state disaster relief leaders during crisis and how he will bring a new direction for disaster relief that’s going to further build its future.”

NAMB shared news of Porter’s appointment with state disaster relief leaders during a phone call with state disaster relief leaders on Tuesday (July 11).

“We started looking for someone who was well-respected in the disaster relief world,” Melber said. “Sam had that respect because of his historical work in the disaster relief world. He’s highly regarded as a leader among state partners, and he truly understands how disaster relief works.”

Porter said he is “really thrilled to get to continue in the ministry I’ve already been doing 19-and-a-half years.”

“The SBC-DR network of state directors is a fellowship of incredible men that help believers learn how to put themselves in the mission offering plate,” he said. “My prayer is that we can see every state convention have a strong disaster relief team to impact their part of the USA for the Lord by serving when individual’s lives are torn apart by disasters of various types.”

Porter currently serves as volunteer missions specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), which includes responsibilities as the director of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief. His resume of SBDR efforts is extensive. Porter plans to retire from the BGCO Aug. 15 and begin his role with NAMB in mid-September.

“I know of no one in the SBC who more exemplifies the ministry of disaster relief than Sam Porter,” Anthony Jordan, BGCO state executive, said.

“He has the respect of state and national leaders, as well as governmental leaders,” Jordan said. “He will be a bridge for building a solid and dynamic relationship between states and associational leaders with the North American Mission Board for disaster relief.”

Porter said one of his top priorities in the new role will be to help state conventions add to their volunteer force.

“The first things will be to seek to strengthen the DR teams in the state conventions that have declining numbers,” Porter said. “We want to see every one of the 42 state conventions reach out to include collegiate students and many more millennials.

“This generation are doers and desire to be in hands-on ministry,” he said. “They are perfect to be DR volunteers. We will seek to have more join their local state teams to serve across the nation.”

Additionally, Porter has taken part in two SBDR humanitarian aid trips to Iraq distributing blankets, food, stoves and fuel. He has also served in Indonesia and Thailand following the 2004 December tsunami. Porter led disaster and recovery efforts following hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav.

He has served on the board of trustees at Golden Gate Seminary (now Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention) and was chairman of the board for two years. Porter was a trustee for Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and vice president of the Oklahoma Pastor’s Conference. He has also served as a men’s ministries specialist and pastored for 20 years at several churches.

“We would never have imagined a year ago that someone like Sam would want to take on this role,” Melber said. “But God has been clarifying who we needed, and it was confirmed in Sam and his wife Sheryl, too. Sam will bring new ways to grow a volunteer network in disaster relief, and we’re so thankful for God’s constant provision and how He works through all circumstances.”

Porter has an undergraduate degree from Baylor University where he was defensive end on the Baylor football team. He also holds a masters of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Sheryl, have two adult sons, Aaron and Josh, and five grandchildren.

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  • Josie Bingham